India asked WhatsApp answers on a snooping controversy Thursday after critics were fired accusing authorities of spying on citizens on malware from the Facebook-owned messaging service.
In the United States WhatsApp lodged a lawsuit against the Israeli technology company NSO Group accusing Israel of using the popular instant messaging platform for cyberspying journalists, diplomats, dissidents and human rights activists around the world.
The Israeli firm denied targeting to journalists and activists that it only licenses the tools for’ fighting crime and terror ‘ governments.
In India nearly two dozen activists, lawyers, and journalists have been hacked, according to Indian media reports-WhatsApp’s largest market with about 400 million active users.
The Indian Express reported that WhatsApp confirmed that the Pegasus spyware targeted several Indian users who installed themselves on their device and transmitted the data back to the hackers.
New Delhi asked Whatsapp to’ explain the kind of violations that are being made and what it is doing to protect the privacy of millions of Indians,’ Ravi Shankar Prasad, the information and technology minister, wrote on Twitter, denying that government used its malware to spy on its people.
Nevertheless, opposition leaders have accused the government of invading the privacy of people.
“A government that spies on reporters, activists and opposition leaders and treats its own people as criminals has lost the right to our democracy” tweet leader Randeep Surjewala, the leading opposition congress party spokesperson.
WhatsApp recently informed 20 activists, lawyers and reporters that their phones had been hacked for two weeks in May. Rights activists and critics in India accused the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being bullying them for their political crítices.
After Modi rose to the top in 2014, it has banned hundreds of NGOs and stopped funding many more.
Rupali Jadhav, activist and one of WhatsApp’s contacts said she suspected her work on caste, class and gender rights is targeted.
“We’re told that India is a democracy, but if our privacy rights are violated, does that not raise questions?” she told an Indian online news agency.